Finding a the right business partner for your company or startup is a difficult and time-consuming task. Unlike your colleagues or employees, who follow the directions and rules that you have set, your business partner is involved in all important decisions – based on which the future of the company depends – manages company resources, and has an equal say on business activities.
Additionally, finding the “perfect”, for you, co-founder is often associated with uncertainty and high risk, which makes many young entrepreneurs want to start out on their own, because they want to have full control and ownership of their choices, or because they are struggling with finding someone that they can really trust.
So, if you can go ahead and do it on your own, why bother with finding a business partner?
As one of the most successful pioneers of the business world, Henry Ford, once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is a success.” Undoubtedly, the essence of unity and harmony is the key to making a business run smoothly and successfully. And this is where the role of a potential business partner comes into play.
The Benefits of Having a Co-Founder
“This is how I look at it. If the business is a lemonade stand, you should probably do it yourself because of the fun, the uniqueness, the little decisions you make; you want control of that. When you set your sights on building a great company, in a big market, with a difficult problem, you need to multiply the number of ideas,” says Joel Radtke, President, COO and Co-Founder of CollateralEdge.
“You need to make sure all of the priorities and expirations that need to happen to address this, don’t get short shrift just because you’ve reached your mental limits or you’re exhausted at the end of the day.”
“You need a peer that can provide check and balance to bad ideas, before too many bad plans go down the line, before you chew up resources, waste opportunities, just because nobody was in a position to raise their hand and say 'that’s a dumb idea', we need to talk about this,” adds Radtke.
A great business partner can bring to the table a bundle of benefits, such as innovative ideas and approaches, lower workload, share costs and liability, generate new contacts and, most importantly, introduce new strategies, tools and methods. A suitable co-founder will also share their own vision with you and bring expertise to the startup.
In other words, a prosperous and productive business partnership can immensely help grow and develop a business, through collaboration, cooperation, loyalty and a strong alliance. Your business can have an even more significant impact on the world with the right business partner by your side, with all his or her talents and abilities.
“Having a true peer in terms of what you bring to the table is critical,” and “the key factors for a successful team are trust and respect,” says Joe Beard, CEO and Co-Founder of CollateralEdge.
“As I look at a partnership that I want to come into, I am self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and need to be able to trust my business partner, in terms of his decision-making and work ethic, and his ability to match my hustle.”
“Running a business and creating something very new and innovative is very complex. The thought that one person is able to get their hands around the technology, leadership, funding, finding capital, marketing, the likelihood of someone being good at all those things is just highly unlikely, and so, you always wanna team up with someone,” Bread continues.
What to Look for in a Business Partner
The truth is that finding a business partner is not as easy as choosing a friend with whom you get along well. That is why many business owners find themselves in a dilemma about what to look for in a business partner. Here are some of the top characteristics that you should take into account before joining forces with someone and starting to work together on your business ideas:
Passion – A business partner should be just as passionate as you about the company, its services and products. He or she should be willing to explore all the possibilities to achieve the company's goals, and must be committed to the success of a company.
Trustworthiness – When a company's potential business partner is trustworthy, he or she can prevent a plethora of business problems that might otherwise arise with a wrong choice. Since such characteristics of a person are not recognizable at first glance, one should take time to build mutual trust.
Reliability – Reliability is one of the most important qualities to look for in a business partner. The right approach to assessing a potential partner is to think about their interpersonal skills in making contact, having self-confidence, integrity, communication skills and being honest.
Innovativeness – There is always the possibility that something bigger and unique will emerge when two creative minds work together. That is why it is important to choose a partner who has the potential to bring in unique ideas for the development of the business and its brand image.
Compatibility – Needless to say, compatibility is the key to a good relationship. If an individual or group of individuals possesses values that complement your personal characteristics, it is best to form an alliance with them. In addition, compatibility helps build a sense of mutual respect, which is definitely a plus for a company.
Understanding – “Having a business partner is also crucial in terms of just having someone to talk to. Being a founder can be a lonely place for a lot of entrepreneurs, and so, having someone who has that shared trouble sleeping at night and shared challenges of facing a new day and obstacles, having that conversation and knowing you are not alone in the journey, is pretty important,” adds Bread of CollateralEdge.
Get to Know your Business Partner
As the old saying goes, every coin has two sides, so the search for a business partner might be unsuccessful if the right approach is not taken into account. It is, therefore, necessary to carefully interview a person when seeking a potential business partnership. Inc.com recently published a list with the top questions that entrepreneurs should ask themselves and clarify with potential co-founders before entering a business partnership, and these include:
On the other hand, you should make sure that you and your business partner share the same vision and have similar goals, that your expectations for the business and from each other are clearly communicated, and that your relationship is built on trust, mutual respect and transparency.
The long-term success of a company requires great ideas and a successful implementation of one's business plans. That comes with a lot of uncertainty, instability, and – especially when starting a business – financial difficulties, as resources are scarce. Rarely can a person cover all areas of knowledge and found a company completely alone. Having the right co-pilot in this unpredictable take-off is surely going to help the business long term.
A business partner, if chosen correctly, can boost both the business and the motivation of a business owner. To find a fruitful business partnership, you should ask important questions during a meeting with your potential co-founder to get an idea of the skills, values, dedication and talents they bring to the company, and make sure you assess their characteristics correctly in order to have endless success at every step.
To learn more about choosing the right co-founder listen to the “How to Select, Manage and Grow a Co-Founding and Equal Partnership Relationship” episode of the LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB podcast by Growth To Exit, where Joe Beard and Joel Radtke, founders of CollateralEdge (watch video above) bring their insights and experience to the audience and discuss the core values of their successful business partnership.